Why Your Resume’s Objective Is ‘A Waste Of Space’ And How To Fix It

If you’ve ever read anything about how to write a job-winning resume, you’ve read about resume objectives. These short statements sit at the top of the page and let employers know what you’re after, like so: “Obtain a position at Dream Company Inc. where I can maximize my leadership, recruitment, and research skills.” Does your resume really need one of these? I spoke to one career expert to get his take. Spoiler alert: He says objectives are “a waste of space.”

Charles Purdy is the career advice expert for Monster.com, and he has seen a lot of resumes. He told me that since recruiters and HR people spend a less a minute looking over the typical resume, “if the first thing they see is something they already know — your objective is to get the job you applied for — you’re wasting valuable time.” [tagbox tag= "career center"]

Purdy prefers a summary to an objective. Where an objective tells the reader what you want, a summary explains what you have to offer. It boils down your resume into a few brief lines that give the reader an overview of what you bring to the table. “A company doesn’t care what you want,” Purdy explained. “They care about what you can do for them.” Here are four tips for crafting a summary instead of an objective.

  1. Read the job description carefully and tailor your summary to it. Purdy advises to get specific: If the position requires a person who is fluent in Chicago and AP Style and has html skills, put that in there. Read the company’s “about us” page online, too, to give yourself a broader idea of what they value.
  2. Follow the 20-second rule. “If I can’t look at your resume in 20 seconds and get what’s important, think about redoing it,” Purdy says. That means your objective should be no more than five one-line bullet points, or four of five lines of regular text.
  3. No, seriously, keep it short. “If you’ve been a professional for many years, you could write a book!” Purdy says. “But you have the rest of the resume to go in to detail, and the cover letter to tell your career story in a conversational way.” A summary has no point if it’s half as long as the resume itself.
  4. Let the summary guide the rest of your application. The switch from objective to summary is a major philosophical difference. As Purdy puts it: “You should be approaching all your professional communications with that in mind. What do I have to offer a company? How will I help this company make money and achieve its goals?”
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